Seychelles STI policy review paves way for sustainable economic diversification |26 September 2023
Stakeholders are meeting in a three-day workshop to discuss a draft review of the country’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy and strategy 2016-2025 prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The workshop has been organised by the Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), as the custodian of the STI policy and strategy, under the aegis of the Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, in partnership with UNCTAD.
The objectives of the workshop are to discuss the findings of the draft review of the Seychelles STI policy, raise awareness and stimulate a policy dialogue among stakeholders about the role of the STI in national development and to encourage the emergence of stronger linkages among the STI players.
Ultimately, the aim is to develop capacities of local partners to understand the importance of STI as a catalyst for economic development.
In her keynote address at the launch of the workshop yesterday, the Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Devika Vidot, started by quoting President Wavel Ramkalawan at the G77 Summit when he said: “STIs are keys to finding an acceptable balance between responsible consumption and production on the one hand, and sustainable societies on the other. That is why it is important, now more than ever, to keep people and our planet at the centre of scientific and technological advancement.”
She further quoted: “By investing in digital infrastructure, promoting digital literacy and fostering innovation in our educational systems, we can empower our people, create opportunities and narrow the socio-economic gaps that divide us.”
She noted that during the workshop and policy reviews, it is crucial to keep in mind the broader context in which they operate. The global landscape is marked by both opportunities and challenges, from the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) to the pressing need for sustainable solutions to combat climate change.
“Our policy must equip us to not only thrive in this ever-changing environment but also to lead and innovate,” Minister Vidot stated.
She said it is essential to recognise that the science, technology, and innovation landscape is continually evolving and so are the national priorities.
“We must adapt to these changes swiftly and effectively. It is critical therefore that we have the right environment, institutions, capabilities and mindset to be able to adopt, adapt and why not, develop technologies and innovations for our socio-economic development.”
She emphasised the critical role that the business sector plays in the nation’s economic growth and prosperity, noting that a thriving business sector is the backbone for economic diversification and as government we are dedicated to providing the necessary framework for businesses to flourish.
“We see our policies as blueprints that guide our efforts to transform potentials into reality. Just as much, the STI policy is critical to the new challenges and allowing our local private sector to improve on efficiencies and competitiveness in this open global economy.”
Speaking on behalf of UNCTAD, ICT and STI policy expert, Dimo Calovski, explained that there has been an ongoing arrangement with the government of Seychelles for several years.
“After a few years of implementation and following the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has considered that it is time to rethink the concept, do some revisions and to consider some parts for the future development of this particular policy,” he stated.
He noted that the first day of the workshop includes looking at the draft policy review that UNCTAD has prepared. The agenda includes seeking feedback from stakeholders and develop perspectives on the policy.
Mr Calovski said that the second day of the workshop will include training stakeholders from the various institutions and the private sector on what is the STI policy, what is the role of innovation and development and the various other issues that this entails including technology transfer, including the role of entrepreneurship and innovation. This will be done through a series of presentations as well as group work and case studies.
Responding to the question of whether there will be things such as the implementation of AI in key sectors, Mr Calovski replied that Seychelles is a small island developing state, therefore sustainable development challenges are very important for the country.
“The case is not very clear, neither for Seychelles, nor globally. A lot of reviews and reflections need to be done on this particular issue,” he mentioned. “The case is out of what there is of the opportunities of AI, what will be its use, how it will be imbedded in the policy. These are all considerations for the government. We can advise to some extent but some of these technologies are very much ahead and we suffer from the same problem at the UN and national government, that the technology of today is accelerating so fast that the policy considerations are always a bit behind.”
The director general of DSTI, Cynthia Alexander, spoke about how the workshop can help the government’s goals of economic diversification and improving the objectives of attaining the national priorities.
“As an island nation we are suffering the effects of climate change and when Covid hit us, we saw that our reliance on tourism was a very important thing that we had to see how to make it more sustainable and also to make sure there is economic diversification happening in all other sectors and improve the business sectors by promoting entrepreneurship,” she stated.
The two days of capacity building will see how the NGOs and stakeholders can impact the STI strategies into the existing policies and collaboratively work towards a society where Seychelles is self-sustainable.
Principal secretary Michael Nalletamby explained what the workshop entails for Seychelles and how it will benefit the business landscape for the country.
“We need to align the policy with the strategic plan of the National Development Strategy,” he said, noting that there is a need to pinpoint the challenges and address them so that the policy can align well with the plan.
Since the country’s plan is economic diversification, to make this happen the private sector will be the main driver.
Photos by Louis Toussaint